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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, September 17, 2006

Group urges Lingle to bring back gas cap

Associated Press

An Island consumer group has called on Gov. Linda Lingle to reinstate the gas cap, calculating Hawai'i motorists would be saving about $480,000 per day if it were still in effect.

"Now that we can clearly see how much the suspension of the gas pricing law has cost consumers, it is time for the governor to act," said George Fox, a spokesman for Advocates for Consumer Rights.

The cap on wholesale gasoline prices went into effect Sept. 1, 2005. It was based on the average of prices in Los Angeles, New York and the Gulf Coast. Critics said it didn't bring down prices and threatened Hawai'i's oil supplies by squeezing the state's oil refiners.

The cap was suspended indefinitely May 5 when Lingle signed into law a bill passed by the Legislature. The measure gives Lingle the authority to reimpose the gas cap if prices get out of hand.

Lingle has said she doesn't foresee ever bringing the gas cap back, although she added she will ask the Legislature next year to look into steps to limit industry profits.

The average price for unleaded regular in Hawai'i was $3.28 per gallon the only state above $3 down from $3.36 a month ago, AAA reported Friday. By comparison, the national average was $2.55, down from $2.98 last month, it said.

If the cap were in effect today, the average price for regular unleaded in Hawai'i would be $2.79 per gallon, the group said.

"Before the gas price law was suspended, we were confident it was working, but we couldn't prove it, because the oil companies and their supporters always claimed the unregulated price would have been lower," Fox said. "Now we can see their prices and compare them to the formula in the law.